Pasta Salad for Kids
This post is sponsored by Horizon Organic. All opinions are my own. Today I’m sharing my kids’ favorite pasta salad recipe and a little lunch box inspiration.
With the school year coming to a close, I know many of us parents are running out of lunchbox ideas. My creativity and energy in the lunch packing department is definitely waning. I saw a funny meme on Facebook the other day of an end-of-year kids lunch that was basically just a slice of bread. I laughed because I could totally relate. Though we look forward summer vacation, for most of us, it’s not the end of early-morning lunch packing. My kids will be home with me most of the summer, but there will still be days that they need lunches for camp, or even packed lunches for the park or backyard picnics. So I wanted to share an easy and fun make-ahead packed lunch idea to simplify our busy lives while making our kids happy.
Like most, my kids love pasta. I think they would have spaghetti or mac & cheese for dinner every night if they could. I love to make pasta salads for my kids because it’s an easy way to serve veggies in a kid-friendly way. Pasta salad can be made well in advance and kept in the refrigerator, so it’s ideal for cold packed lunches. This kid-friendly pasta salad is very simple and a great base for you to add your own ingredients. I’ve included cucumber, tomatoes, and olives this time, but my girls also like marinated artichoke hearts, capers, and sweet bell peppers. Chickpeas, white beans, or edamame would be great additions too. This lunch can be packed the night before to make mornings even easier.
I’ve used this kids’ organic pasta salad as the star of our lunch boxes this week and built a wholesome, natural lunch around it. I’ve always encouraged the celebration of real food like fruits and veggies, to teach kids to make healthy choices. My kids, like many others, are sometimes drawn to brightly colored, highly processed foods. Organic, real food ingredients devoid of artificial colors and flavors can be just as fun though! This time of year my girls often snack on half a mini watermelons, scooping the flesh directly from the melon. For packed lunches they love melon balls now that they are old enough for choking not to be as much of a concern. My kids love the cute cow shaped Horizon Organic pasta and snacks. They basically think I’m supermom when I let them have these fun foods. And I love that they are made with wholesome ingredients and no artificial colors. I like to fill the smallest section of our stainless lunch system with a sweet treat to make homemade lunches extra special.
This simple pasta salad uses some of our favorite fresh summer ingredients. Feel free to mix it up and add you family’s favorite ingredients. Some great additions include: peas, broccoli, carrots, edamame, artichoke hearts, white beans, fresh corn, chickpea, cubed cheese, and fresh basil. What would you add? Though I’ve written Italian dressing into the recipe, I just as often make this simply with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar.
Pasta Salad for Kids
- 1 (6 oz.) box Horizon Organic pasta (I used Pasta Cows & Mild Cheddar Cheese, cheese packet discarded)
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
- 1 cup black olives, sliced or halved lengthwise
- 1 cup diced Persian or hothouse cucumber
- 1/4 cup Italian salad dressing
- Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking. Transfer drained pasta to a medium bowl.
- Add tomatoes, olives, and cucumber to the bowl and toss to combine. Dress with the Italian salad dressing to taste. Refrigerate until ready to eat.